Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be missionaries . . .

Greg has always said that he wanted our girls to all settle within the same area code as us.
I'll be happy if we all end up on the same continent!

It's all my fault, really. Since my earliest days of following Jesus, I've longed to be a missionary. If there was ever an altar call given for missionary service, I'd be the first to rush down the aisle. I took classes about mission in Bible college and went on a 6 week mission trip (to the ghettos of New York) the summer after my freshman year.

I was more than willing to forsake all for the sake of His cause. But then I married a pastor . . .

Thankfully, Greg shares my passion for missions, and cross-cultural outreach has always been a part of his ministry. Our entire family even did a 5-month-long DTS (training school) with YWAM in the early 90's to see if perhaps the Lord was calling us to full-time mission work.

He wasn't--but the experience had a deep impact on my daughters, who were 6, 8, and 10 at the time. One of our teachers during our DTS talked about being "ruined for the ordinary" by missions--and I don't think the girls were ever quite the same.

And it probably didn't help any that I read them every missionary biography I could get my hands on as they were growing up. Whether it was Jackie Pullinger working with heroin addicts in Hong Kong or Adoniram Judson persevering in a Burmese prison, these stories inspired our faith and fueled our imaginations as we read of their adventures with God.

Each girl had her favorite. Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom, was Lindsay's hero, and inspired her to do some in-depth research on the plight of the Jews during that terrible time.

Danielle loved Amy Carmichael and her bold outreach to the children who were sold into the demonic temple prostitution in India. Gladys Alyward captured Candyce's imagination, as she boldly led 50 Chinese orphans on a desperate trek across hostile terrain.

The fact that many of these servants of God sacrified their health, families, and sometimes even their lives didn't faze my girls in the least. Through the stories we'd read and their own experiences, they'd seen God at work in extraordinary ways. The American Dream never really appealed to them.

They were "ruined for the ordinary," after all . . .

I couldn't be prouder of my three amazing daughters. Candyce, my full-time YWAM missionary, is preparing to work with AIDs orphans in Africa this summer. Lindsay--in a bold step of faith--has just committed to spending 2 1/2 weeks ministering to children in Uganda in June.

And Danielle . . . well, she is marrying a boy whose parents are missionaries in China. And I heard them the other day talking about they will educate their children in Krispin's parent's international school--a half a world away.

I was completely caught off guard by the grief that pierced my heart. . .

It was MUCH easier to offer my life to the Lord as a missionary than to offer up my children--and grandchildren--for that same purpose.
But I am reaping what I sowed . . .
So, take heed, all you parents who are raising mission-minded children. You will probably not all live in the same hemisphere when they leave the nest--and you may not get to spend every holiday together or celebrate every grandbaby's birthday.
The sacrifice is great . . . but maybe it will be the tales of our offspring's spiritual exploits that are passed down to the next generation, ruining others for the ordinary . . .
Can there be a greater reward?